The Change in the Reflection of Gender Roles from Proto-Science Fiction to Science Fiction with the Rise of Feminism: Margaret Cavendish’s The Blazing World and Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars

Berna Köseoğlu


Before the rise of feminism, women were oppressed in the field of literature, particularly in science fiction. Despite this prejudice, Margaret Cavendish played a very important role in producing proto-science fiction with her utopian fiction, A Description of a New World Called the Blazing World, though gender problem can still be observed in the work. After the rise of feminism, with Mary Robinette Kowal’s science fiction, The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel, female characters, who are more active in science and technology, are depicted, even if these women still struggle with patriarchal values in a different context. Therefore, the aim of this article is to compare and contrast The Blazing World and The Calculating Stars by discussing the ways these two female writers try to achieve destroying the gender-based stereotypical roles in the field of science and technology. Consequently, what will be stressed is the change in the portrayal of gender roles within the transition period from proto-science fiction to science fiction, therefore it will be emphasized that proto-science fiction written before the feminist movement cannot overcome gender inequality in science and technology, whereas science fiction produced after feminism can break the gender-based barriers in these fields.


Science Fiction, Gender Roles, Patriarchal Values, Male-Dominated Society, Feminism, Women’s Rights

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